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Posthumous Admission Ceremony for William Herbert Johnson


Hon. Shirley Troutman, Appellate Division, Fourth Dept. Courtesy of Syracuse University


William Herbert Johnson and his wife, Katherine


In 1903, William Herbert Johnson, the first African American graduate of Syracuse Law School, was unable to gain admission to the New York State Bar due to racial injustice. Recently, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, addressed this injustice by admitting Mr. Johnson to the profession in a ceremony at the Onondaga County Courthouse.

The admission ceremony was held on Friday, October 18, 2019. Members of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission were in attendance, including: Commission Co-Chair Honorable Shirley Troutman, Justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department; Honorable Vanessa E. Bogan, Syracuse City Court; and Honorable Lenora B. Foote-Beavers, Buffalo City Court Judge. Justice Troutman exalted Mr. Johnson as a trailblazer, stating “Because William Herbert Johnson dared to pursue a career in law, he paved the way for other African-Americans.”


Presiding Justice Gerald J. Whalen, Mark W. Bennett, Court Clerk, Mr. Johnson’s grandchildren. back row: Appellate Division Justices John V. Centra, Edward D. Carni and Shirley Troutman Picture courtesy of Syracuse University



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